Mom’s Cancer

I don’t post about webcomics as much as I should, especially given how many I enjoy. So it seems somewhat odd to choose to post about Mom’s Cancer, a graphic novel by Brian Fies that describes his mother’s battle with metastatic lung cancer. But there’s a reason for it.

Brian chose to deal with this awful time this way because he felt it was the best way for him. He originally released it page by page on USENET before putting it on the web. It has since been picked up for publication and that required him to take down the posted pages. But now he is posting it to Gocomics and also blogging each comic with notes and other related materials. Despite what you might think, it’s not as depressing as the topic would suggest and since today is the first episode, you can follow the story from its beginning. I highly suggest that you do.

Continue reading Mom’s Cancer

11 images that capture the incredible vastness of space

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
English humorist & science fiction novelist (1952 – 2001)

The Hidden FM Radio Inside Your Pocket, And Why You Can’t Use It

If you have almost any brand smartphone you actually have an FM radio as well. But for almost all of them you can’t use it because manufacturers and wireless providers haven’t bothered to turn them on. Sure, you can listen to your local FM station, but over the network and therefore not for free.

It’s not just a money issue (although that’s certainly a big part of it) it’s very much about public safety. In the event of a disaster or major network failure people rely on radio broadcasts for information. Why can’t they use a radio they already have in their pockets?

Confused by changing dietary recommendations?

One day salt is bad, the next it’s fine. Same for eggs and butter and lots of other foods. Are you confused? It’s perfectly understandable since the research behind dietary recommendations is a lot less certain than you think. The studies are often done poorly, relying on test subjects to voluntarily report what they eat or they’re performed on animals without knowing if translates to humans.

So what should you do? I can’t tell you,  no one can at least not for sure. If your doctor tells you to avoid something or eat more of something else that’s probably as good advice as you’re doing to get. Other than that, eating everything in moderation seems like a good strategy.

Senators want probe into abuse of visa program

I know it’s hard to believe but a California energy company just may have abused the H-1B visa program.

For once, though, some Senators are actually looking into the accusations. Of course, this is the United States and there’s almost no chance this will lead to anything substantial but it’s at least a change from the usual wink-and-a-nudge this sort of abuse gets.

The Differences Between the Plane Crash in Tapei and the Miracle on the Hudson

You likely remember the “Miracle on the Hudson” where pilot “Sully” Sullenberger managed to land an Airbus A320 on the river following loss of his engines. You might have also seen the incredible video of the TransAsia plane crashing into a elevated highway before falling into a river. Similar scenarios with vastly different outcomes. Why?

The answer is rooted in our response to danger. Sullenberger was an experienced pilot with 20,000 hours in the cockpit while the pilot of the Transasia plane had only 5,000. Sullenberger could control his panic response thanks to his extensive training while the other pilot let his response overwhelm.

A mobile encryption app that doesn’t encrypt

NQ Mobile Vault is a mobile app (iOS/Android) that claims to securely encrypt your files. Unfortunately, the “encryption” is not only weak but it’s not over the entire file.

There are probably other encryption apps that are equally weak and/or fraudulent because it’s difficult to properly audit their security. Do your homework and always be skeptical.